"To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father." (Colossians 1:2)
This is a verse that is often skipped over, but one which holds a huge truth. Every christian is a saint and a member of the family of God. When we meet together as Christians, it’s a time to celebrate this fact. In doing so, we celebrate something that the reformer Martin Luther called The Great Exchange:
God is holy, righteous, altogether always and only good. We are sinners, unholy and unrighteous by nature and choice. We stand before this holy and righteous God, and if you believe in and belong to Jesus Christ, there has been a great exchange. Jesus has come and has lived the sinless perfect life that you could not live, died the substitutionary death that you should die, and gives the gift you cannot earn. Jesus takes your place, and the amazing thing is that Jesus puts you in His place. Jesus takes all of your condemnation and gives you salvation. He takes your rebellion and He gives you His obedience. He takes your damnation and He gives you His revelation. He takes from you your disobedience and gives you His perfect submission to God the Father. This is really amazing. He takes your death and He gives you His life. He takes your unrighteousness and He gives you His righteousness. He takes your sin and He calls you His saint.
We Treat Family Differently
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:10-11)
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6)
Giving is what Jesus does and there is no one else like Him. There is no one else who makes enemy into family. If you are in Christ, your identity comes from Him. This changes everything. This changes how we relate and treat one another as Christians, and this is something we celebrate when we take bread and wine during communion. We can forgive one another because one day in heaven they will never say or do that hurtful thing again. That’s who they really are in Christ. The bible calls them a brother or sister in Christ and a saint. That’s part of what makes our new life in Christ so amazing: we can live from our identity in Him, not just for a future identity.
The Exchange Is Really a Gift
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)
Our identity is saint, and you can become a saint right now by giving your life and sin to Jesus. This identity is received from God and not achieved by you. What’s great about that is that if you didn’t earn it, you can’t lose it; if you didn’t achieve it but received it as a gift you can’t boast in it. What this means for each one who is a child of God is that we have a humble confident hope. That’s part of what communion is: a celebration of that hope we have each morning as we wake up and each night before we go to sleep. That is a hope in God that does not fade away, because we are empowered by the Holy Spirit for all that God has for us in each new day.